Welcome to the Trail Well Traveled!
Each Friday, in partnership with Montana Wilderness Association we will feature a new western Montana trail and then give you some helpful details and tips to get on your way!
This weekend, we send you trekking into the world’s most poetically named hiking destination: Cowboy Heaven. Head out now and you may even catch some lingering fall aspens!
Round Trip: 12.8 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 2,300 feet
Directions: From Missoula, head east on Interstate 90 past Butte and Whitehall until you reach Highway 359 near Carwell. Head south here, merging with Highway 287 at Harrison and on south about 9.7 miles past Norris to a little town called McAllister. There, turn east (left) onto Ennis Lake Road, and in another four miles you’ll cross a bridge at the northeast corner of the lake before immediately turning left. Continue another half mile until the road widens at the Trail Creek Day Use parking area.
What to expect: Trail Creek Trail starts by climbing up a dozen switchbacks through junipers above Trail Creek. All of the meadows along the way have lovely views, and any one of them can be a great turnaround spot.
1.2 miles: After passing through the gate onto private property, enter open meadows.
2.0 miles: Sign for the Pot Trail #341 on the left and a mound of large white quartz boulders on the right. Turn right.
2.2 miles: Stay left at the unmarked fork. The trail will soon turn left and head uphill, paralleling Trail Creek and entering the forest.
2.6 miles: National Forest boundary sign.
3.1 and 3.75 miles: Good lunch spots with rocks to sit on and views.
3.25 miles: Second junction with Pot Trail #341 in another meadow. Continue straight. Beyond here, the trail will switchback up through deep forests until it emerges into Cowboy Heaven on the left. Note where you need to head to rejoin the trail, then meander through the meadow and enjoy the views.
Fun Fact: If the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act is passed, parts of this trail will be in the Lee Metcalf Wilderness, linking the Bear Trap Canyon and Spanish Peaks segments of the Lee Metcalf.
Learn more about this trail, file your own trip report and photos, or check out some other great hikes at hikewildmontana.org. And don’t forget to tune in to the Trail 103.3 each Friday at 9:45 am for the next featured trail and your chance to win!
Big thanks to Rangitsch Bros RV for sponsoring the Trail Well Traveled. Proudly serving Missoula for over 56 years, whatever camper best suits your needs Rangitsch Bros has got it!